How does urbanization affect soil organisms and what is the effect of these organisms on plant growth and health in urban areas?
Urbanization has a substantial impact on natural ecosystems where only certain plant or animal species can thrive in areas that have high amounts of development and chemical pollution from human activities. Whether urbanization has this same effect on organisms belowground is currently unknown. But belowground organisms, such as mycorrhizal fungi that form beneficial relationships with plants and assist plants in acquiring nutrients, are necessary for proper plant growth and survival. The absence or reductions in abundance of mycorrhizal fungi and other organisms could have negative effects on plants in urban settings and influence the success of urban forestry, agricultural and efforts at restoring nature in developed landscapes. Scientists at HF&G are exploring this question with our collaborators at Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University. Investigations include effects of nanoparticles on soil organisms associated with common crop species, effects of development on vernal pools, and how soil fungi affect tree restoration in urban parks. Studies examining differences in soil organisms found on vacant urban lots and in restored urban park land are currently ongoing.
soil amendment, soil chemistry, mycorrhizae, soil fungi, urban ecology, soil